Author: David Barber

“Hurry, Igor!” called Miss Frankenstein.

Outside, the electrical storm drew closer, and thunder rumbled over the thrashing treetops to the south. Everything now depended on snatching lightning from the skies. A month of unseasonable fine weather had driven her near mad with impatience.

After so much work, after so many disappointments, after waiting so long, success was within her grasp. Her searching gaze took in the laboratory. Her laboratory.

More hygienic than robbing graves at midnight; more scientific than sewing together bits of dead bodies. What had her uncle hoped to achieve in the long run? There was no denying the heroic surgery, but it was a performance, not science. And it had all ended badly, chasing off into the Arctic after his creature. Such a male thing to do.

Igor limped into the laboratory, sloshing a flask of murky broth.

“The dead microbial culture?”

Her assistant nodded.

“And the Vital Principle?”

For a moment Igor’s face clouded, then cleared. “Ready.”

“Then bring it,” cried Frankenstein. “Bring it, and we shall create history!”

“Yes, master.”

“And don’t call me master. I am not him and you are not my servant. The old days are gone, we work together now. You are my assistant in this great enterprise.”

Igor did not answer. Perhaps he preferred the old days, nails black with gravedirt, the spat of voltage on reanimation nights, a whiff of corruption about the place.

When he returned, there was something about his expression, those beetling brows failing to hide a shiftiness in his gaze.

“You centrifuged the Vital Principle?” queried Frankenstein. “Then resuspended it in fresh broth?”

More nods.

“And checked the pH? The pH is critical.”

On the rooftop above, electricity danced about lightning conductors, then down copper wires to crackle round Igor as he closed the knife switch.

“Think!” she admonished him, while the very hairs on his head stood up as if in terror. “Dead microbes reanimated! Tomorrow, plant and animals, then one day, who knows, my uncles’ dream. Even people!”

The modern miracle of electricity meets the Vital Principle – the nucleic acid extracted from living microbes. The dawn of a new age! Men of science did not believe the Vital Principle was merely a chemical. But she would prove them wrong!

For a moment she swayed, dizzy with fatigue and euphoria. Months of work neared its climax. Perhaps she misunderstood the look on Igor’s face. Again she explained.

“Electricity will infuse the Vital Principle into the dead microbes. We will show they can live again! But do not concern yourself, Igor, we will dispose of them safely afterwards.”

She almost giggled. “They will not escape like Frankenstein’s monster.”

Igor said nothing. Preparing the Vital Principle earlier, he had dropped the flask of E. coli, but luckily found another, labelled Yersina pestis, left over from his old master’s investigations into the Black Death.

He’d used that instead. She would never know.

Busy with the future, her attention fixed on a clock as the bacterial mixture fizzed and bubbled into new life, she fluttered a hand vaguely.

“Go and see what that commotion is.”

Outside, the electrical storm lit up the sky, freezing the angry mob for an instant like a flashbulb, all jostling pitchforks and torches, before they burst into the lab to smash this latest abomination, loosing something monstrous into the winds.